Defense for the Devil
Kate Wilhelm has a way of pulling together seemingly insolvable psychological mysteries into a fascinating puzzle that fits together by the last page. Her Barbara Holloway mysteries tie me up and pull me in each time. This time it is Defense for the Devil and is excellent.
It's hard to describe the plot. An evil man shows up at his ex-wife's with a suitcase of money and threats. His family rescues her and shuts him up in his brother's home for the weekend. Later the man is found dead. The ex-wife, Maggie, and the brother, Ray's, homes are searched and destroyed. She approaches Barbara because she has this money and a computer print out that was with it.
Barbara starts digging and soon figures that the print out was stolen software development. It came from a major company on the edge of revolutionizing telecommunication software. So Barbara helps Maggie deal with the company who is supposed to receive the stolen program as well as the company who wrote it. Now she's involved with some national mob-type figures.
When Ray is arrested for the his brother's murder, it gets more twisted. Someone is framing him. As long as Barbara is representing Maggie, she can't help Ray. But Ray isn't getting the proper representation, in Barbara's opinion, and could easily be convicted. Barbara has to finish helping Maggie without revealing how Maggie obtained the money, then step in and prevent Ray from being convicted.
Her personal life is twisted up as well. John, the man she has fallen in love with, is living with her. They don't completely understand each other. He doesn't understand her obsession when she is involved in a case. She doesn't understand his needs in his work or with his children. After a wonderful trip together, they are now dancing around each other.
Although there is usually some danger or action in these novels, most of it is off screen, per se. Wilhelm works her way into the reader's mind with suspenseful situations and characters. Barbara is a complex woman in her early 40's. She quit being a lawyer for many years but has been pulled back into it. As long as she can be her own type of lawyer, she is content. But she is never truly happy. She has too many things going on in her mind.
Defense for the Devil is excellent. Barbara knows who killed the man. She also knows Ray is framed so that it looks like him. Can she tap dance through all the hoops, save Ray, preserve Maggie's family, and preserve her own relationships? Something has to give.
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